Deliberations in the Ryan Widmer murder trial proved an agonizing and “gut-wrenching” process, a juror told Enquirer reporter Janice Morse today.
In a wide-ranging interview, the Hamilton Township juror said his colleagues explicitly followed Judge Neal Bronson’s instructions.
“I believe that we were very thorough,’’ he said. “I’m not aware of any jury misconduct.’’
The unnamed juror addressed perceptions that the jury didn’t take sufficient notes or reached a verdict in haste. The jury deliberating for 12 hours over two days, in contrast to the 30 hours for last year’s hung jury and 21 hours for the jury in 2009. Both of those trials ended in mistrials.
This juror did appear to take more notes than a number of his colleagues. He said at least one juror would use break time to write down recollections of testimony. Another juror, he said, was so intelligent that he had “total recall’’ of testimony.
The jury foreman, he said, is a former business executive who helped organize deliberations so the process ran smoothly and jurors remained focused.
The juror declined to reveal which specific scenario they believed led to Sarah Widmer’s death, but said the evidence didn’t allow them to envision any scenario that explained the dry conditions of the alleged drowning scene or the sequence of events in Ryan Widmer’s 911 call.
“I know in my heart that we made the right decision, based on the evidence,’’ he said.
Two jurors told WCPO News that the testimony of the state’s “mystery witness,” Jennifer Crew, did not factor into their verdict. The Iowa woman testified that an inebriated Widmer called her and confessed to killing his wife, Sarah Widmer. A juror from Mason told WCPO:
“We all wanted to find him not guilty. We assumed he was innocent. I want to make it clear that we discounted Jennifer Crew’s testimony. She had nothing to do with the verdict. We listened to the 911 call maybe a half a dozen times and we broke it down second by second, but something didn’t add up.”
Another juror from Loveland told WCPO that it was difficult to see Widmer’s reaction upon reading of the verdict and discussed what he thought were the most important elements of the case:
He said the jurors looked very closely at the tub and the the fingerprints in the tub, which he described as being two hands sweeping in a downward motion… He also said the bruises on Sarah were important and the jury didn’t believe they came from life-saving measures. He also said the jury reviewed the 911 call several times and noted the amount of time it took, from the point in the recording, when Ryan says he is picking up Sarah out of the tub to the time the first officer arrived at the Hamilton Township home. The juror said there was not enough time for Sarah’s body to dry since the deputy’s testimony was that Sarah’s body was dry. He agreed with the other juror that they did not believe the testimony of Jennifer Crew.
“After reviewing the witnesses and the evidence, we had one vote and it was unanimous for guilty for murder. I was waiting to see if someone would vote not guilty and present an argument for reasonable doubt, but no one did,” he said.
Another juror told WLWT’s Karin Johnson that the Widmer family dog played a role in deliberations.
The juror said that even before the operator speaks, the dog is heard barking on the 911 call. She told Johnson that if Ryan found Sarah dead and called 911 immediately as he claimed, there would have been no reason for the dog to be barking.
The juror said that if Ryan had just found Sarah there, “there”s no reason for the dog to get all hyper.”
“So we believed she was laying on the floor from the beginning of the tape,” the juror said.
In related news, an attorney for Widmer is reporting some jurors may have spoke to friends and family about the case before a verdict was reached.
“In the middle of the prosecution’s case, the defense team was alerted by a number of people that at least two of the jurors had told friends or family members that they were certain Ryan was going to be found guilty,” attorney Charles M. Rittgers wrote in a prepared statement released shortly after noon Wednesday.
“We are currently trying to substantiate the allegations. Ryan is innocent and I firmly believe that had the jury followed Judge (Neal) Bronson’s instructions on the law that the verdict would have been not guilty,” Rittgers wrote in the statement.
A conviction in Widmer’s first trial was overturned due to juror misconduct because jurors conducted experiments on how long it would take a body to dry.
Widmer was found guilty of murder Tuesday evening in the 2008 drowning death of his wife, Sarah Widmer. Judge Neal Bronson sentenced him to 15 years to life in prison.
Posted in: Crime, News, Widmer Trial |